'King of Clubs' Stringfellow dies at 77 after cancer battle
Peter Stringfellow, the flamboyant British nightclub owner who was a magnet for celebrities, has died at the age of 77 from cancer.
The businessman, who had wanted to keep his illness private, died early yesterday after spending time in hospital.
His publicist, Matt Glass, said: "It's very sad news. He passed away in the early hours of this morning. It was kept very private, he didn't want to tell. He wanted to keep it a secret."
Stringfellow - known as the King of Clubs - started in the trade in the early 1960s and recalled booking acts including The Beatles, The Kinks and Jimi Hendrix to play at his clubs.
In 1980, he opened Stringfellows in Covent Garden in London's West End and went on to create venues in Paris, New York, Miami, Beverly Hills and Dublin.
With its topless girls and exuberant after-hours entertainment, the Stringfellow brand became a byword for debauchery and sexual kicks that had echoes of the empire created by late 'Playboy' magnate Hugh Hefner. The mogul said his clubs had hosted A-listers including Prince, Marvin Gaye, Rod Stewart and Tom Jones.
And it was not just celebrities who experienced Stringfellow's hospitality - Professor Stephen Hawking once joined him for dinner at one of the venues.
One of Stringfellow's four children, Karen, said she was "heartbroken and devastated" at her father's death, as she posted a picture on Facebook of them together.
Stringfellow had treatment for lung cancer after being diagnosed in 2008. However he kept the diagnosis a secret for nearly six years, telling only family and close friends, until it was leaked in 2015.
Comedy actress Su Pollard, who knew Stringfellow and had worked with him, told BBC Radio 4's 'Today' programme: "He was a fantastic role model for other entrepreneurs.
"When he was in the room - for a start, I used to think he was so handsome, I love men with long hair - he was lovely.
"I liked him because he was always warm, he could have probably been in showbiz in another area, but he chose to be an entrepreneur."
Pollard added: "You miss people that are large, and are givers. He gave of himself such a lot. He was a great person to be around, I feel for his family."
Boy George described him as "one of Sheffield's finest", adding: "What a character."
Born in Sheffield in 1940, Stringfellow was the eldest of four boys who were brought up by the women in his family after the men went to war. He served a brief prison sentence in 1962 for selling stolen carpets, a sharp lesson which he said put him on the straight and narrow.
In a 2012 article, he attributed his entrepreneurial spirit to his "feisty" mother.
Rejecting proposals to classify lap dancing clubs as "sex encounter establishments", he told MPs in 2008: "Of course, it is sexually stimulating but so is a disco. So is picture of David Beckham lying there in his Calvin Kleins."